As a researcher, Svalbard has always caught my attention and admiration, being the headquarters for so many scientific missions and their unparalleled findings about our world and its climate. Last week, I had the privilege of visiting the archipelago and participate in an intense summer school about the Arctic Ocean and the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ), at UNIS.
Despite focusing my research on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the past two years have targeted the development of ICTs in coastal and maritime operations, namely through the SINet MSCA IF. These operations are particularly challenged in harsh regions such as the Arctic, where infrastructures are scarce or non-existent. But why is this issue relevant? What kind of operations would take place in the Arctic?
Finding answers to these questions, and many more, was one of the goals of the summer school, which discussed “Interdisciplinary research, management practices and policy developments.” It brought together a group of 23 young researchers, from different scientific fields such as Geography, Biology and Law, promoting an immersive experience in Longyearbyen, at 78N latitude.
The working week included more than 50 lectures and presentations, as well as a visit to the Svalbard Satellite Station and Isdammen. The covered topics were as diverse as the group of participants, addressing existing issues concerning the sustainable development of activities in the Arctic and in the MIZ. The intensive exchange of experiences and ideas, from experts around the world, allowed for many fruitful discussions and the writing of a report that analyses the challenges and opportunities of Tourism in the Arctic, from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Even though the importance of new technologies is already clear in today’s world, the participation in this summer school refreshed my perspective into considering their role in a broader scope. ICTs have the potential of not only enabling new opportunities, but also of simultaneously mitigating existing threats, enforcing a conscious and sustainable development, environmentally, economically and politically.
The summer school was hosted by the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research (NVP), in cooperation with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), UiT – the Arctic University of Norway, the Nord University, the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Akvaplan-niva, the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), the Nansen Scientific Society and the Russian Geographical Society (RGS).